Touring unfinished Schloss Herrenchiemsee

I love visiting castles and palaces, preferably without any other tourists around but since that’s usually not an option I was simply hoping that our stopover on our Southern Germany road trip wouldn’t be too much of a crowded affair. Turns out that the trip out to the Herreninsel, an island in Bavaria’s largest lake, the Chiemsee, was rather pleasant. Schloss Herrenchiemsee sits perched in the middle of the island.

Here’s an introduction as to what you could expect when visiting the palace that is Herrenchiemsee.

How to get to Schloss Herrenchiemsee

To get to Herrenchiemsee, you’ll need to take a ferry across Lake Chiemsee. There are a few places from which to leave but we found it easiest to go to the town fo Prien-Stock and take the ferry from there. You don’t need to book, just buy tickets at the ferry gate.

Though I’m usually not big on anything to do with water, having to take the ferry across Lake Chiemsee to visit Schloss Herrenchiemsee (Royal Palace of Herrenchiemsee) was super pleasant. Probably because of the relaxing combination of being on holidays, no wind and thus calm waters, and overall it just being a glorious day.

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Schloss Herrenchiemsee just peeking through…

Schloss Herrenchiemsee is one of Bavarian King Ludwig II’s creations, Neuschwanstein being the most famous one of his castles. This particular palace was inspired by Versailles to such a ridiculous extent that if you think you’ll never make it to Versailles or the crowds there would just make you go bananas, then go and visit Schloss Herrenchiemsee instead.

Since it’s a 20 minute walk from the ferry pier to the actual palace, lots of people will opt to hop aboard one of the horse-drawn carriages (at least in summer) instead of meandering through the woods and gardens. Needless to say that we saved our €3 and walked.

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Approaching Schloss Herrenchiemsee from the Grand Canal

Touring Herrenchiemsee

You can only visit Schloss Herrenchiemsee on a half-hour guided tour but the good thing is that they offer them in various languages, including Russian. I found that interesting; obviously lots of Russian speakers visit this palace. I’d never even heard of it until I started researching places to see on our road trip. Clearly, I am an ignoramus.

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The front verandah of Schloss Herrenchiemsee

Guided tours are generally too rushed for both the husband and myself but this one was pretty good, though as usual we trailed behind and were always the last to leave any rooms. I’d love to show off the extravagant decor but alas, you’re not allowed to take any photos while on the tour. Meh.

So go and visit Mr. Google. The Grosse Spiegelgalerie (Great Hall of Mirrors) was extraordinary! Apparently they host classical concerts there in summer, which must be absolutely amazing.

Grosse Spiegelgalerie. Image credit: Bayrische Schlösserverwaltung.

The one really strange thing about this palace is that it’s seriously unfinished (i.e. 50 out of 70 rooms!). I found that quite fascinating as you first tour the lavish and opulently decorated part of the palace, seeing gold wherever you turn. Then all of a sudden, you’re presented with utter barrenness as you make your own way through the unfinished part past bare concrete walls, across a ridiculously sized bath tub (you literally walk across it, it’s that big!) and down the bricked Northern entrance hall.

Northern, very unfinished entrance hall. Image credit: Bayrische Schlösserverwaltung.

Just like the palace, the grounds are unfinished and only the section right in front of the palace is nicely manicured. After the tour we had a picnic lunch there and got to enjoy the synchronised fountains for a while.

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Latona Fountain looking towards the Grand Canal

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Fama Fountain

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Fortuna Fountain

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Flower beds and lawns in the gardens

From there, we wandered back towards the ferry pier and had a quick look around the Augustinian Monastery buildings, dating back to the 1600s, at the Northern end of the island.

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At the ferry pier on the island with view of the Bavarian Alps

COSTS

As far as expensive admission for palaces and castles go, Schloss Herrenchiemsee is somewhat reasonable: €8 for adults. We opted to visit the Augustinian Monastery on the island as well so ended up with a €10 combined ticket. To that, of course, you have to add the ferry ride, which will set you back another €7.80 each if you come from the town of Prien-Stock.

SUMMING UP…

If you’re visiting Munich and want a relaxing day trip seeing some incredible and excessive display of wealth, go and visit Schloss Herrenchiemsee. Take a picnic and wander around the island for hours if you wish.

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Herrenchiemsee in Bavaria is an unfinished but lavish palace. Find out what to expect on a tour through the palace.

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